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Lack of upgrade path gives cause to pause, but may not affect the average buyer significantly

While the official party line from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is that it has not announced whether there will be an upgrade path for Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) handsets, such as the Lumia 900 LTE by Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), to future operating system versions, the rumor-mill is abuzz that the answer is "no".

I. No Upgrade Path for Windows Phone Mango

No one knows precisely when the next version of Windows Phone will land.  But leaked slides from 2011 point to a Q2 launch of a lightweight variant (Tango) and a Q4 (likely October alongside Windows 8) launch of the next high-end release --- Windows Phone 8 (code-name: Apollo). With Mango devices like the Lumia 900 finally starting to appeal from an aesthetics and hardware perspective, the question on the minds of many is whether these second-generation Windows Phones will be compatible with the third-generation Apollo operating system.

Again, there's been no official word from Microsoft, but signs pointing to "no" began when blog WMPowerUser interviewed Microsoft developer-cum-WP promoter Nuno Silva, who claimed that the devices would be eligible for upgrade:

That possibility was cast into serious doubt, when Mr. Silva posted a blog followup retracting his claim and apologizing.  In the blog he writes:

I recently participated in an interview with the Portuguese website Zwame, where I made some comments on the future of Windows Phone that created confusion. Rumors are swirling, so I feel the need to clarify my statements.

The point I was attempting to make was simply that existing Windows Phone applications will run on the next version of Windows Phone. This is the same guidance that Microsoft shared late last year.

I mistakenly confused app compatibility with phone updateability, which caused the rumors we saw yesterday.  I did not intend to give the impression I was offering new guidance on any products under development or their upgradeability.

While there has been no official word, that denial coupled with reports from top reporters with ties to Microsoft -- SuperSite for Windows' Paul Thurrott [link], ZDNet-veteran Mary Jo Foley [link], and The Verge's Dieter Bohn [link] -- indicates that it’s unlikely that any Mango device will receive an Apollo upgrade.

Paul Thurrott offers perhaps the most insight, writing:

First, there’s no economic imperative; Microsoft’s partners have sold very few Windows Phones, and supporting a new platform on legacy hardware would be expensive. Second, the experience would be terrible; Windows Phone 8 is based on Windows 8, not Windows Phone 7.x, and requires headier, higher-end hardware with two or more core processors. Third, handset makers and wireless carriers would never support this upgrade; they want to sell new phones. And finally, wireless carriers would never, ever, ever, ever deliver this update to users.

Of course Microsoft has already made it absolutely clear that Mango will continue to received patches and updates -- including bug-fixes, performance enhancements, and security-updates -- until end-of-life (EOL).  So, no upgrade does not mean "no update", by anyone's estimation.

Sources: YouTube [Interview], MSDN, SuperSite for Windows

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Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 11:31:40 AM , Rating: 4
There are no "reports", only rumors. No new information has come out from Microsoft about the update. But if we are going to post rumors, then at least acknowledge two different accounts that they are currently testing WP8 on all Lumia devices currently.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 11:33:17 AM , Rating: 2
I said currently twice in the same sentence. My apologies.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By JasonMick on 4/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By Varun on 4/23/2012 12:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, with Paul saying it is not going to happen, it certainly seems like it is not going to happen. Still, I think it is a mistake since I doubt there is any technical reason that they can't get around. I mean, they have basically help a single hardware spec since launch. The device makers would have to tailor it though, something I doubt most of them would do.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By hydrata on 4/23/2012 2:57:57 PM , Rating: 2

I bought the AT&T M-Cell a few months ago and it's made my life much easier. If you do the same, I suggest calling customer service first and complaining a bit about service quality. I was told to do this by rep's at an AT&T store, so I wasn't just being a whiner. After speaking with the customer service rep on the phone, he agreed to place a $100 credit on my account. Also, AT&T was running a promotion at the time where if you sign up for unlimited calling minutes for the M-Cell you get a $100 credit. I was able to cancel the unlimited minutes for the M-Cell after one billing cycle but still keep the credit. These two tactics resulted in my M-Cell being almost free. Give it a shot.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 11:52:27 AM , Rating: 1
The rumors that say "no" come from much more credible sites with a track record of getting them right most of the time. All you have for the "yes" column is some news about MS testing WP8 on older hardware translated from Chinese.

It's unknown, but heavily leaning towards "No update"

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 2:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
MS Nerd is well known to get information about Microsoft correct. They are all equally credible, in that none of these is as credible as Microsoft itself. And they haven't said anything yet.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 2:45:58 PM , Rating: 1
Wanna place a $10K bet on it?

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By InvertMe on 4/23/2012 3:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
What are you 5? What a stupid comment..

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 3:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
Step 1: Google 10k bet
Step 2: Feel like a jackass

Now, I'm not rich like Romney so I can't afford to risk $10k with a stupid bet, but I'm open to betting where the loser takes a yearlong vacation from DT, still interested?

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By datdamonfoo on 4/23/2012 6:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I'll take that bet. Year long vacation, no posts.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By corduroygt on 4/23/2012 6:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
Too bad you can always come back under a different account, but you're on. I bet that there won't be an official MS sanctioned upgrade path from WP7.5 to WP8 on the current crop of WP7 devices as of today, including the Lumia 900.

RE: Rumors and nothing more.
By haukionkannel on 4/23/2012 4:11:33 PM , Rating: 3
We allso have to remember that what win8 brings is multicore support (along other hardware upgrades) and as we well know, older mobile win 7 based phones are singlecore machines, so there would not be many reasons to upgrade...
What I expect is that we will get mobile win 7 upgrades (at least security upgrades) from time to time to these older models. It would be the most logical and allso customer friendly thing to do!

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